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jones2r 11-26-2006 11:26 PM

First Boat for Learning
I am looking for recommendations for two boats for the Charleston area. The first would be a learning vessel for harbor sailing and perhaps some outside. The second would be for coastal/islands/Caribbean cruising. In this posting, I'm only requesting input for the first vessel. Jeff_H has established performance criteria for this type of boat. I am adding a few others of my own, as listed below:

1. Single-hander
2. A head - no shower
3. Comfortable cockpit
4. Cabin adequate for overnighting
5. Inboard power
6. Will not be overwhelmed by harbor-mouth currents and chop (I have visited Fort Sumter on a less than perfect day)

Recommending a premium boat(s) is perfectly appropriate, although not a requirement. I know that the recommendation is typically for used, but new is OK if not otherwise available. I am looking for modern design and quality construction, and am not looking for a reconstruction project. I anticipate keeping this boat after the second is acquired.

I have read many of the archived postings and value the knowledge and experience available on this site.


camaraderie 11-27-2006 10:15 AM

Bob... here's what I'd buy new or used for your "harbour/coastal" boat. Hard to find used since there is limited production. New they are a good value for what you get and can be customized to meet your needs.

RayMetz100 11-27-2006 10:44 AM

I believe most modern sailboats with an inboard will have a head. For single-handing a boat that size, you'll want something with a jib boom like these:

The 28 here would be nice:

You can probably add the jib boom to many boats though:

mstern 11-27-2006 11:04 AM

Your requirement for inboard power will really take you out of the typical "beginner boat" realm. That's fine, but you should know that the majority of small, weekend cruiser style boats are outboard powered. Price appears to be less of a consideration for you, but it would be helpful to know what your budget is. The Alerion mentioned by RayMetz is a great boat: high quality construction and absolutely beautiful design. It also meets all of your criteria (assuming that a non-private head is ok with you and you don't care about standing headroom in the cabin). However, new they cost about 100K, and used they aren't much less. Is that your price range?

RayMetz100 11-27-2006 11:21 AM

The Alerion 28 has option #99006 Marine Toilet in lieu of std. porta pottie w/Priv. Curtain.

I agree with mstern that an outboard is more typical and should be acceptable, but I'm thinking maybe jones2r already has power boat experience and wants to ensure plenty of power through the heavy currents when coming in and out of harbors. Once he's clear of the harbors, the motor shouldn't be an issue.

mstern 11-27-2006 04:26 PM

I think you will find that the Alerion is not much more comfortable below than a J boat; it looks a lot better, but you can't stand up and the head is at best behind a curtain. I think you will also find that if you have an old sailor's soul, you can't help but fall in love with the looks of the Alerion. Unless you are a fan of the melted-cheese look of a say a Hunter or Beneteau (is my prejudice showing?), you will think the Alerion is simply the prettiest boat available today. Sure, the boat sails nicely, but it isn't the fastest, driest or most stately ride you can buy. You can buy a boat that is similarly styled; however, that boat will be about forty years old (and all that portends in terms of maintenance and problems) and have a full keel (and all that portends with respect to sailing performance). The point of the Alerion is that there is a niche market for those who want a classicly-styled daysailer without the headaches that come with buying a forty year old boat. You pay for the look. If I had the bucks, I'd be first in line. The Alerion fits your list because it is one of the few boats made today that is about the length you want that has an inboard engine.

The more you explain your needs, the more I see that some of your requirements work at cross purposes. You won't find too many "weekend cruisers" that have a separate head or an inboard engine. Need to single-hand? I would keep the boat to less than 28 feet; sail handling and docking a boat bigger than that alone gets too tricky for me. Privacy for the head: if you want more than a curtain, you will have trouble finding anything with a door under 27 feet. btw, this one issue more than any other drove me to pick my boat. After living with a portipotti behind a curtain for a summer, the Admiral insisted on a real door for the next boat. Inboard engine: very unusual to find in boats under 27 feet. Cabin adequate for overnighting? Adequate is a relative term, but if you are looking for standing headroom, you will have to go to 27 feet; less than that and the best you will do is with a pop-top model. Once you cross the line over 27 feet, you leave the world of weekend cruisers behind and enter into the realm of pocket cruisers. Here is what I can think of now: Some are pricey, but fortunately for you, that doesn't seem to be much of an issue. Pacific Seacraft made a couple of models that would work for you: the Flicka, and the Dana Point 24. The Flicka is a 21 foot ocean crossing capable cruising boat. The Dana Point is basically a larger version. both are very salty looking, full keel boats, but they seem to fit all of your criteria. They are also quite expensive, especially for their length. They are full-fledged cruisers, not weekend boats. both boats are out of active production, although I think they can be special ordered, and are generally available used. If you want to go used, there are some great older boats that used to qualify as full cruisers but would now be considered too small or uncomfortable to anything but weekend on. If you can find a well-restored model, any of these would fill the bill well: The Pearson Renegade: a 27 foot cruiser. One of the first production boats with the fin keel separated from the rudder. Well restored models go for around 10-15K. Pearson 26: a classic, but you would have to find one that has been retro-fitted with inboard power. I sailed on one 15 years ago, but haven't seen one since. I would guess that with an inboard, a nicely preserved P26 would go for around 10K. The Catalina 27 I think would also do nicely for you. If you are shopping without looking at the price tag, you can have a lot of fun!

jones2r 11-27-2006 04:34 PM


Thanks for the reply. I've taken a look at Com-Pacs. These little guys really do give you a lot. I have to consider though that much of what they offer is what I'll be looking for in a second boat. Just to mention, the second one will be the cruiser, and there I'll be looking at a "big" 35ft. or so.

Don't know if you followed Golden Hind yesterday. SailingDog really helped me to resolve some issues. I'm on MacIntosh, and the furnished browser was giving me minimal access to this website. It wasn't a problem last winter, but here of late I've been going through the back door to get to the Forum archives; not much else has been available to me. Well, SD uses Mac, and he recommended a different browser; makes all of the difference in the world.

Thanks for your help. It really is appreciated.

If you're with us RayM., I took a look at the Alerion. It looks exactly like what I'm after. I'll have to look into that saildrive thing. Everything I've read in here is unfavorable, but that's antiquated equipment being discussed. I don't know anything about the modern equipment. Any inputs here are welcomed.

Thanks guys. Keep 'em coming! I'm all ears.


RayMetz100 11-27-2006 05:03 PM

I don't think inboards are unfavorable. I hope to learn how to use one myself by summer on 30-36 footers. It's just not as common for someone to learn sailing on a boat with an inboard. But that's probably because most people can't afford it, not because it's more difficult or not recommended.

It sounded like you may have powerboat experience in those waters already. In that case, you're probably better able to decide than us on that issue anyway.

jones2r 11-27-2006 05:07 PM


I believe we must have both been typing at the same time. As I mentioned in the preceding post, having visited their website, the Alerion does look great. Thing is, I can't find where the $100K is. The inside looks like a schoolbus. Now, that's fine with me. If the cockpit is comfortable, that's what counts. I've read criticisms of the small J-boats comfort-wise, but they're racers. Plus, there's no carbon fiber here, not even Kevlar. Vinylester is as hi-tech as it gets. It is a balsa-cored hull; I'm sure that runs the cost up. I suppose if we threw the option list at it, loaded it down with electronics, and tacked on the labor bill, someone would be willing to accommodate the salivating buyer with a $100K tab. But, this is all just a first impression.

It is a great looking boat. Aesthetics was not on my want list, but it can be persuasive. I'm definitely going to look into this one. I've just got to find out what I would be buying.

Almost got me! This is replying to your third post. All of my sailing experience was in Key Biscayne and the keys many (don't ask) years ago. No powerboating at all. As mentioned in another post, the inboard spec was for clearing the breakwater in the mouth of Charleston Harbor. I've seen it, been in it on a larger boat, but haven't sailed in it. What I'm really looking for is a nice, smaller boat for learning purposes. If an inboard is not practical, then an outboard will have to do. It's all a bag of compromises. Similarly, no proper head available, the portapotty will have to do. The Alerion may be the answer. Jeff_H in earlier posts (I have been reading archived Forums) spec'd out boats that meet these needs, and I have supplemented his list to meet the perceived local conditions in Charleston. I presently live in Atlanta and am anticipating relocation next year concurrent with acquiring this boat.

Thanks very much for your input. It's appreciated.


ps: Do you know anything about this saildrive they're using?

camaraderie 11-27-2006 05:15 PM

Bob... I wouldn't worry about the new sail drives...especially on a boat like the Alerion. No prob on the Com-pacs...I was thinking in a different direction...more towards outside of Charleston harbor and hops up and down the coast on weekends. The Alerion is a sweet boat...sure lets you keep up with the "jones's" ....<GRIN>

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